Life as we know it doesn’t end with the first frost. Beauty doesn’t stop, either. We have had several light frosts (28.5F/-1.9C was the coldest) but no hard freezes, which means many garden plants are still going strong. (Do you know the difference between a frost and a freeze?)
Flowers in the house
I was able to gather several containers of fresh flowers for a friend’s wedding this past Monday. And there was still plenty more left outside.Tall snapdragons make excellent cut flowers and aren’t fazed by a light frost. Many Hydrangea paniculata cultivars bloom white but develop an attractive pink flush as they age, and although Hydrangea macrophylla isn’t as cold-resistant, I still found a few more protected blossoms in the back of the shrub that still had their blue or pink flowers unmarred. Tall flowering tobaccos are a mainstay of my fall garden. These pink-flushed nicotianas are third generation offspring of named varieties my sister grew from seed and shared with me. The original Romanian sage (Salvia transsylvanica) was given to me by contributor Craig Levy. I notice many sites list it as hardy to USDA Zone 6, but it has been thriving for me ever since Craig gave it to me, and even self-sows. Of course, if I deadheaded it, I’d have more flowers but less plants to give away. Most of the roses in the vase above were buds when I cut them and brought them in the house. I don’t know if they would have eventually opened or not if I had left them to their own devices. But when the buds show color, I generally have success getting them to bloom indoors, where it’s easier to enjoy them on rainy days. You do have to look carefully. Sometimes the most promising buds are in the back or closer to the ground.
Flowers outdoorsThe earliest-blooming colchicums have petered out, but many of the mid- to late-season colchicums are still going strong. These petunias are descendants of plants grown by the previous owner. They just showed up and I’m sure they don’t look anything like their more highly-bred parents. Still, they were free and are still blooming freely. These cottage pinks are on their second flush of bloom. Boy, are they fragrant in a vase. Did you notice them tucked in with the snapdragons above? Ruth Baumgardner was a past president of the Perennial Plant Association and this cultivar of hairy golden aster was named in her honor. I have two small clumps (small in circumference; the plants are 4-5 feet tall) and I can only imagine what a huge stand would look like. This is a great companion for tall ornamental grasses or would be great in a traditional perennial border if pinched back before July–which I have yet to try.
Flowers just getting startedSo far I’ve talked about plants that have been blooming for a while. The ‘Hillside Sheffield Pink’ mum (Dendranthema), really closer to an apricot or salmon color, is just getting started. And I am still waiting for the ‘Jindai’ aster (Aster tartaricus) to bloom.
Not flowers at all
Of course, not matter what the season, foliage contributes color and beauty to the garden as well. I won’t even get started on the trees. That’s what everyone thinks of when you mention “colorful autumn foliage.” But there’s so much more!Many kinds of rudbeckia are still blooming. I love how the color of the hosta matches the center of the ‘Irish Eyes’ rudbeckia nestled beside it. The Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica) has been deepening in color all season, and the foliage of blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) provides a striking contrast. This hosta positively glows. And did you notice the heuchera in the opening image? That’s Dolce Cinnamon Curls heuchera from Proven Winners. The foliage of most coral bells looks stunning until snow falls.
Eat from your garden, tooFrost does take out tomatoes, peppers, and many other heat loving plants, but there’s plenty left to eat. Kale actually tastes better after a frost, as do many members of the cole (cabbage) family. If we had planned things better, we could still be eating broccoli from our garden, and Brussels sprouts, too–if we liked them! Root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, beets, and turnips are also sweeter after a frost.
More to come!
Fall crocus are just getting started, and I hope to see some hellebores blooming in November. Violas and pansies are also blooming now, but they are the one flower people expect to see blooming after frost.
Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.